Gateway Gazette

Preparing Albertans for Tech-sector Jobs

The government is helping Alberta students prepare for jobs in the province’s burgeoning technology sector, with support from industry and academic leaders.

Ministers Bilous and Schmidt, with the help of NAIT graduate Erin Wilson, Promethean Labs CEO Zachary Fritze and NAIT Productivity Enhancement Services Technology coordinator Neil Wenger, try controlling robots at NAIT during the Growth and Diversification Act announcement.

If passed, the Growth and Diversification Act would create 3,000 new spaces for technology programs in Alberta’s colleges, polytechnics and universities, ensuring that Albertans get the education they need for the economy of the future.

According to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Alberta is projecting a labour shortage of computer and information systems professionals by 2025, as well as a shortage of software designers, programmers and developers. The proposed bill aims to address the shortage and encourage growth in the province’s high-tech sector by supplying well-educated graduates ready to work in expanding industries. The bill would also support skill-development programs to help Albertans with existing credentials receive additional tech-related skills to help them transition to other careers.

To ensure these new spaces meet industry needs, the bill would also create a new Talent Advisory Council on Technology, made up of industry and academic leaders who would advise the government on the creation or expansion of specific programs.

“Alberta students deserve learning opportunities that prepare them for good jobs in a diversified economy. Working together, we will help young people succeed in the technology jobs waiting for them today – and put our province at the forefront of the technological transformation of our world.”

Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education

“Alberta is a young, talented province, but today there about 1,000 more good tech-job vacancies than graduates ready to fill them. Tomorrow, there will be more. That’s why we are supporting technology-related programs that will help homegrown businesses expand and make an Alberta an even more globally competitive place for international companies to invest.”

Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade

“New technology brings global opportunities closer and has applications for every sector of our economy. Our machine learning company, Promethean Labs, uses satellite imagery to help agricultural companies be more efficient. From our head office here in Edmonton, we take our services around the world. Supporting students to prepare for the incredible job opportunities in tech will help ensure our province continues to be a global leader today and tomorrow.”

Zachary Fritze, CEO, Promethean Labs

“Technology is driving change. Alberta’s post-secondary institutions play a critical role in preparing our province for this change. We are focused on developing a highly skilled and educated workforce in the technology field to ensure industry and businesses adapt and thrive.”

Glenn Feltham, president and CEO, NAIT

The proposed bill would allocate $43 million to support the spaces and $7 million for scholarships, for a total of $50 million. This investment adds to the government’s commitment to make education more affordable and accessible for all Albertans. This includes a tuition freeze that saves students about $1,500 on a four-year degree, as well as government’s approval for Grande Prairie Regional College and Red Deer College to begin developing degrees so students can study closer to home.

In addition to expanding technology education programs, the Growth and Diversification Act would also help Alberta digital media companies recruit and retain more homegrown talent with a new credit that refunds part of their payroll costs.

To help Alberta businesses across sectors continue to grow, the act would also extend the existing Alberta Investment Tax Credit and Capital Investment Tax Credit.

Details of a new Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit and the extension of the two tax credits will be available in the coming days.

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